Unboxing the iPhone 7 Plus

In the following video, I unbox the all new, 128GB, matte black, iPhone 7 Plus

The iPhone 7 Plus is the hottest smartphone on the planet right now. The device is sold out; and while Apple and their manufacturing partners may be hard at work trying to replenish stock levels, there isn’t an unspoken 7 Plus available on the planet right now.

I was lucky enough to get one and my matte black iPhone 7 Plus arrived on 2016-09-20, two years to the day, after I unboxed the iPhone 6. It was a nostalgic moment for me.

In this almost eight minute unboxing video, I unbox the 128GB matte black iPhone 7 Plus and do a quick physical comparison to the 64GB iPhone 6s Plus.

I’ll be doing a first impressions document as well as a review on this in the next few days, so stick around for more iPhone 7 content.

Also, if you have something you’d like me to cover, or if you have questions about the device, leave them in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to get to them in one of these upcoming posts.

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The Road to Seven

It’s always a journey. Sometimes it’s not as easy as it should be…

iPhone 7

Over the past six years, I’ve been an iPhone user. I’ve owned an iPhone 4s, an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 6. On Tuesday 2016-09-20, I will be an iPhone 7 Plus owner. They say that getting there is half the fun. Normally, it is. This time, however, there were some unexpected bumps in the road. Before I get to all the fun that comes with a new phone, you need to hear about the journey.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, is this a big deal..? No. Not even a little bit; and this is definitely a first world problem. However, it was a bit maddening and just a whole not confusing.

I woke at 2am on 2016-09-09 and after a problem accessing my AT&T wireless account, and got in to my account’s upgrade options for the three lines of four lines service that I have. It took a great deal of effort to actually order the upgrades for my three lines. I admit that it was mostly my fault.

The biggest problem that I had was that I couldn’t, for some reason, actually get all three phones into 1 upgrade order. I also was having a very hard time processing even one upgrade order. This was largely due to the amount of traffic on the AT&T site and on the Apple web site as well. Both sets of servers were throwing inventory and order information back and forth between each other.

Though I had gotten myself actually in and functioning at about 2:15am CDT, I quickly found out that delivery dates had quickly been pushed back. Matte black iPhone 7 Pluses were showing a delivery date between 2016-09-23 and 2016-09-30. Jet black was showing delivery dates between 2016-10-14 and 2016-10-21. I found that to be completely amazing. Delivery dates for these had been pushed back by a month in less than 15 minutes.

The rose gold iPhone 7 Plus that I ordered as the last upgrade had a delivery date of 2016-09-16. However as of this writing, it has not arrived. I won’t arrive until sometime on 2016-09-19, three calendar days after it was promised. Getting it, even to this point of “in transit” status was a bit of a nail biter, too. Unfortunately, I can’t get any information out of anyone at AT&T as to WHY the order took the route that it did.

Briefly, the series of events went like this:

  1. Order for the Rose Gold, 128GB, iPhone 7 Plus was placed on 2016-09-19 at 2:22:27am
  2. Order Shipping date was listed as 2016-09-15
  3. Order Delivery date was listed as 2016-09-16
  4. I called AT&T at around 2pm CDT on 2016-09-15, as I had not received a shipping notice yet, to check on the order. The customer service rep I spoke with insured me that the order would ship as noted (on 9/15) and would arrive on 2016-09-16, as AT&T had recently switched their standard shipping method from 2-day to 1-day overnight.
  5. On 2016-09-15, Apple announced that all currently available iPhone 7 Plus devices, in all colors and storage sizes, were sold out; and that all iPhone 7’s in Jet Black, in all storage sizes, were sold out. Availability dates for new stock, as of this writing, still have not been announced.
  6. I awoke on 2016-09-16 to check the status of the order. I still had not received a shipping notice or any kind of text update from AT&T. I found that the device’s order status had been changed to BACKORDERED. The device’s shipping date had been changed from 2016-09-15 to 2016-09-16. The DELIVERY date remained the same – 2016-09-16.
  7. I called AT&T on three (3) different occasions on 2016-09-16 inquiring about the status of the one device that was supposed to be delivered on that day, but had been marked backordered. No one… absolutely NO ONE had any information. When I described the situation to the, and they looked into the order, inventory, allocations, etc. the response from everyone was nearly identical – “huh… well, that’s strange. I can’t find any information on why this is backordered.”

    They also could not find any information on when it would ship, nor why the delivery and ship dates hadn’t updated to reflect the new status. Unfortunately for me, my experience with the customer service reps I was connected to got progressively worse as the day wore on. None of them seemed to understand what I wanted or why I was calling, and when I finally was able to help them to understand, they couldn’t answer any of my questions.

  8. In a fit of desperation, I tweeted my case to @AT&T and to @AT&TCares
  9. I got a response about 30 minutes after my initial tweet from @AT&TCares. Literally, as soon as I got that response and notification of it on my iPhone, I got a shipping notification in my inbox for the rose golf iPhone 7 Plus. The shipping status changed from Backordered to Shipped. I had a tracking number.

Unfortunately, I have NO explanation on what happened. The only thing I can come up with, based on my own logistics and manufacturing experience is that someone made a data entry mistake when updating the ERP. It was corrected later via the normal shipping process, which updates the order with the actual shipping date as well as with a tracking number.

I think the thing that bothers me the most about this, is that despite calling three times, no one could get past the customer support script and give me any real information on what was going on with my orders. The biggest concern I had with this over this past weekend was, ‘will what I experienced with orders being placed on backorder without any available to me or to any of the customer service reps I spoke with, going to happen to the other two lines of service I have on my account?’

It’s a good question.

It was one I asked three different customer service reps…AND it was one that none of them could really answer. (though all of them acknowledged that they’d love to know the answer to it too…)

UPDATE
I am pleased to say that the rose gold, 128GB iPhone 7 Plus arrived as promised today 2016-09-19. My daughter is setting it up as I write this. I am also pleased to announce that my order for a matte black, 128GB iPhone 7 Plus has shipped and is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, 2016-09-20.

I will be doing a formal unboxing tomorrow night and will have that passed over to Soft32 ASAP. You can also expect a first impressions article, a few blog posts on the iPhone 7 Plus vs the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s Plus, as well as a review of both the iPhone 7 Plus and iOS 10 this month.

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Pardon Me, but is that an Exploding Galaxy Note 7?

Samsung appears to be having issues with its Galaxy Note 7

Over the past few days, after you get past the hype of the latest Apple Event announcing Apple Watch 2 and iPhone 7, you KNOW there have to be executives at Samsung that are – at least for once – glad that Apple has all the limelight. The latest news out of Cupertino has, no doubt had them thanking everyone for moving on from the latest news out of Seoul: Exploding Galaxy Note 7’s.

note 7

Last week, stories of exploding batteries have been all over the news. It got so bad that Samsung indicated that they were not only going to halt sales of their flagship phablet, but recall the device as well. To dates, there have been 35 reported cases of exploding or bursting batteries. News of fires and burns as at least one of the 35 was reported to have exploded in someone’s pants pocket.

Low quality battery cells were reported to be responsible for the issue and recall.

Reports of what countries are effected and are not effected have varied, with at least one report indicating that Note 7 customers in China are unaffected due to the battery supplier used for units there.

Samsung is using lithium-ion batteries in the Note 7. Possible causes for the issue appear to be damaged power cells caused by substandard components, chemistry or design. If a lithium-ion battery is compromised by being over charged, by overheating, damage, or age, the inner cells can “outgas” the flammable, electrolyte mixture within the membrane. An undamaged battery membrane will stretch and bulge to contain this material to some extent; but at some point, the membrane will rupture, and the battery will explode.

Depending on where, when and how violently the battery finally ruptures and explodes, the damage can be devastating.

Samsung has issued a statement informing customers in the United States that they will be able to replace their Note 7s with new units as early as next week.

Customers will be given the option of trading their units in for either a new Note 7 or a Galaxy S7/S7 edge and a refund for the difference. All accessories can also be exchanged for their S7 equivalents.

Samsung is also offering a $25 phone bill credit, or a $25 gift card, for the inconvenience. Device owners can call 1-800-SAMSUNG to arrange a mail exchange, or they can return their device to the retail store where they purchased it.

US mobile carriers are offering the following options to Note 7 owners:

  • T-Mobile is letting customers return their Note 7 in any store for a full refund of the purchase price and any accessories you may have bought. You’ll then be given the choice of buying another phone or receiving a new Note 7 when they are put on sale again, if you wish.
  • Sprint customers can return their device to any Sprint location and can pick up a comparable loaner to use in the meantime
  • Verizon says it has stopped selling the Galaxy Note 7 and has waived the restocking fee for the device through the end of September 2016
  • AT&T is working with Samsung to facilitate Note 7 exchanges. They are also allowing customers to return their device for a different smartphone. Refunds for the difference and for accessories purchased directly from them will be offered
  • U.S. Cellular has not yet announced its plans for handling the recall, but I am assuming they will provide offers to effected device owners.

Did you buy a Galaxy Note 7? Has the battery on this device given you any cause for concern? Have you returned the device or have you decided to hold on to it and roll the dice? If you traded yours in, will you wait for a new Note 7, or did you opt for a different device? Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and tell me all about what happened to you?

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IPhone 7 Rumor Roundup

Apple intends to announce the next generation iPhone at an event on 2016-09-07…

iphone 7

I’ve been doing this for several years now – Apple prognostication, I mean. I must say… I mostly suck at it.

In fact, most everyone does. Well, except for Ming Chi Kuo. He’s an analyst for KGI Securities and he has the best record for predicting what Apple will actually introduce; and even HE isn’t infallible. So, take everything you read about what Apple will actually introduce – including what I’ve included here – with a grain of salt…

So, as I said, Apple is likely to announce iPhone 7 (or whatever they decide to call it…) on 2016-09-07. For the last two years, we’ve gotten two different size iPhones: the 4.7 inch iPhone 6/6s and the 5.5 inch iPhone 6/ 6s Plus. Everyone, Kuo included, is expecting that to continue with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Given this, the follow are the most commonly rumored and agreed upon new features by anyone that’s attempted even basic iDevice prognostication:

  • Increased screen resolutions
    • 1920×1080 (1080p) for the 4.7-inch and
    • 2560×1440 (2K) for the 5.5-inch.
  • DCI-P3 wide color gamut with True Tone support. (OLED??)
  • 3GB of memory
  • 32GB of entry level storage, 256GB max storage, likely on the 5.5 inch Plus model
  • Apple A10 system-on-a-chip
  • Increased water resistance.
  • Dual-lens camera for better low-light and depth-of-field. (Plus only)
  • Space blue color option
  • Gloss black color option
  • Additional Stereo speaker (and removed 3.5mm headphone jack, despite what Woz wants)

There may also be other iDevice announcements at the September 7th event, but honestly, I – and I think most everyone – is most interested and concerned with what happens with the iPhone. However, you can expect updates on iPhone as well as AppleTV, Apple Watch and iPad.

I’ll likely have something on the event after its concluded, reviewing everything that Apple is planning on doing. Stay tuned…!

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iPhone Leprosy, or Touch Disease

If you have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, you need to check this out…

Just in time for you to trade in your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, a new iPhone hardware issue involving the 2014 model cellular iDevice has hit the news wire – Touch Disease.

Touch Disease is a hardware defect effecting both iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices and is identified by a malfunction in the touch screen where user touch input is not read or not interpreted correctly and therefore ignored by the device. Symptoms of the defect are usually preceded by a grey flickering band at the top of the screen, just under the iSight camera and speaker, regardless of device orientation. This symptom can be sporadic and may respond to torqueing or pressing on the device.

touch disease

Replacing the touch screen does not resolve the issue.

According to Apple Insider, the issue may be related to the 2015 “Bend-gate” issue where the larger and thinner smartphones were warping due to inappropriate and in proportionate pressure or force being applied to the screen and to the device case, causing it to bend. This was most often seen by users who carried their device in their back pocket, and then sat down, causing the device to warp and bend in appropriately.

The relation of Touch Disease to Bend-gate is likely in eventual cracking or breaking of solder joints breaking on the device’s touch controller chips. Your device’s touch screen ignores input because the electrical connections to it its controller chips have been interrupted.

This is further exacerbated due to the fact that Apple didn’t use any underfil (sticky stuff) to keep the touch screen control chips securely attached to the PCB. Instead of using a metal shield to further keep the chips in place and to help prevent device bending, Apple chose to go with a sticker (literally… a STICKER) instead.

There are a couple/ three fixes available for this, if your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus device has Touch Disease:

1. Device Replacement – If you have Apple Care, and you can demonstrate the issue for any Apple Genius, they will likely just swap the device out for you. However, the new device you get is still likely Touch Disease susceptible, so you may have to change the way you carry and use the device or it’s going to happen again. This is likely the quickest way to solving your problem; and its likely free
2. Logic Board Replacement – This takes longer, but will also resolve the problem, provided your case isn’t bent or warped, in which case, you’d be better off with a complete device replacement. This is likely covered under Apple Care (and will likely be what Apple does to all effected units it refurbs); but will probably only happen to you if you go somewhere else OTHER than an Apple Store to resolve the issue or if you don’t have Apple Care.
3. Solder Reflow – Repair shops can simply apply enough heat to the existing, broken solder joints and get the solder to reconnect the chips to the PCB. However, this will likely invalidate any warranty you have.
4. Purchase a New iPhone – Many uses without Apple care or Assurion warranty coverage are finding that the only real way to resolve the issue for them is to buy another device.

I was able to see on Mashable that non-Apple Care covered repairs could cost you anywhere between $85 to $250 bucks. New devices are going to be much higher than that depending on where you buy.

This issue does not affect the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, as it uses a less bendable, 7000 series aluminum case.

Has your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus exhibited signs of iPhone Leprosy, or Touch Disease? Did you have an issue with Bend-gate? Do you carry your device in either a front pants or rear pants pocket? Have you noticed that your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus exhibits a slight bend or warp to its casing? I’d love to hear from you if you’ve had any of these things happen to you. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area below, and tell me about it?

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Android 7 – Nougat Coming to HTC Flagships

If you have a top of the line HTC phone, you might want to take a look at this…

nougatGoogle recently announced the release of Android 7, code named Nougat, to the general public. If you have a recent Nexus device, going back to the Nexus 9, you can download and install Nougat right now. Google is supporting the following Nexus devices under Android 7 Nougat:

  • Nexus 6P
  • Nexus 6
  • Nexus 5X
  • Nexus 9
  • Nexus 9 LTE
  • Nexus Player

These are also the devices that are going to run PURE Android… meaning that you’re going to get Android without a lot of the crapware that comes from other device manufacturers or carriers. If however, you don’t have a Nexus device, and like me, you have HTC Android devices, take heart. Well… sort of…

HTC has pledged support for Android Nougat, but as of this writing, Nougat is only pledged for specific phones:

According to RedmondPie, HTC is going to release it for a “slew of other unspecified devices;” but God knows what that means.

If you’re wondering when you can get Android 7.0 for your supported HTC flagship phone, according to Android Authority, if HTC holds to the same schedule as it did with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you can expect to see Nougat arriving on supported devices about two months from now (or sometime during October 2016).

If you have a supported Nexus device and have already installed Android 7.0 on it, I’d love to hear from you. Give me all the details on how the upgrade went for you. If you plan to upgrade your supported HTC device or supported Sony, LG, Samsung, etc. device to Android 7.0, I’d love to hear from you as well. The best way to do this is to leave a comment in the Discussion area, below. I will get back to you ASAP.

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Blackberry is Dead

Blackberry has killed the Blackberry Classic

blackberryI’ve been decrying this the 2011-2012 timeframe, I think. Honestly, I’m really very surprised the company has held out as long as it has, but based on what’s just happened, the company is over and it needs to hang up its mobile devices (read; cleats).

In recent news, Blackberry has discontinued its Blackberry classic – the last current handset in the world running Blackberry OS. Instead, the firm has decided on the following strategy, according to their COO and GM for mobile devices, Ralph Pini,

We are committed to the success of both BlackBerry 10 and Android devices. To keep innovating and advancing…we are updating our smartphone lineup with state of the art devices… The Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone… We are ready for this change so we can give our customers something better — entrenched in our legacy in security and pedigree in making the most productive smartphones.

What this translates to is that Blackberry is releasing one Android phone every quarter, for the next three quarters.

  • Q3-2016: Neon
    This budget based phone should hit the streets in July-August 2016
  • Q4-2016: Argon
    This mid-range phone should be available in October 2016
  • Q1-2017: Mercury
    This upper mid-range phone should be available at the start of 2017 and is rumored to have a physical keyboard

While Blackberry – SAYS – it’s still committed to the success of both Blackberry 10 and Android devices, its immediate strategy doesn’t appear to include any native phones. In other words, I wouldn’t expect any, any time soon. This really makes Blackberry nothing more than yet another mediocre Android phone OEM, and with the devices they show above… I don’t expect them to do very well in the coming three quarters, regardless of price. Mid-range to low end Android devices don’t a lot of business in the enterprise. Those folks want flagship class phones. The market that does want affordable Android devices – emerging and “third world” markets – don’t want enterprise messaging services.

Back in the day, RIM – now called Blackberry – ruled the roost as the mobile device king, fighting off both Microsoft and Palm. Now, 12 – 14 years after their hay day, they’re just another company hanging on, trying to find a way to stay alive and remain relevant while continuing to rely on to IP and paradigms that just don’t resonate with today’s markets.

Are you or your company still using Blackberries? If not now, and you did previously, when did you stop? Do you feel that Blackberry has a chance at continued survival, or are they in an unstoppable death spiral? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area below, and give me your thoughts?

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Unboxing the Star Trek Original Series Communicator

If you’re a Star Trek fan, then you’re going to want to see this…

About a year ago, I got wind of a new prop replica and after seeing it, I had to have one. I’m a huge Trekkie, and honestly, this was just a little too difficult to resist. The closest I ever got to a Star Trek Communicator when I was a kid was one of these…

Communicator Walkie Talkie

The walkie talkies I got as a kid, weren’t very authentic. They were blue. They were made of plastic, and they didn’t work very well. However, for a ten-year-old in 1975, they were totally awesome.

As you can see from the unboxing video and from the photos below, this is TOTALLY different. The device is truly authentic. It’s got the right type of metal casing, with the correct die cast pattern on the casing. It has the gold tone grill antenna, flashing jewels and actuator buttons.

The device is a fully functional, Bluetooth handset. When paired with your smartphone, it can make and place calls, and even act as a Bluetooth audio speaker for your favorite music or video.

The battery life on this thing is (supposed to be) pretty decent. I’ve had it for a few weeks at this point, and after its initial charge, it hasn’t run out of power just yet. Though to be very honest, I haven’t used it too extensively. It’s been hugely fun to play with, but I don’t want to damage or ruin it…

You can see a number of still pictures of the device and its contents, below. As you can see from the shots, is correctly sized and proportioned, and the sounds, make it all that much more fun that you’d think.

IMG_5535 IMG_5536 IMG_5537 IMG_5538
The front of the box The back of the box. Notice all of the detailed specs and information The Communicator’s collector’s box The faux leather case
IMG_5539 IMG_5540 IMG_5541
The open Communicator’s Collector case The contents of the collector’s case. The open Communicator Kirk to Enterprise..!

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